As a kid, I remember GW football games were something of an event. It was the biggest and best football offered in the area on Friday night and although we almost always attended Tunstall games if the Trojans were at home, we would cross the river and watch the Cardinals play if Tunstall was on the road.
The games were usually crowded with one large gate open with a ticket taker stationed on each side of the opening. I was only about six or seven at the time and as the throng would make their way through the gate, I worked my way into the middle of the crowd and emerged inside the fence. I was undefeated in getting into the game. I don’t know what the admission was for a six-year old, maybe a dollar or two if any, but it was always a great challenge.
Some of the guys on the sidelines were like celebrities. They were one-name guys. Pugh (Alger), Wall (Sonny) and “Smitty.” While Pugh and Wall were major players in the coaching brain trust, but Smitty’s role was just as important in nor more so.
Charles Smith, who served around 40 years in the Danville area, was the medical specialist on the sidelines and his ability to keep the players physically prepared to play was often more significant than the other aspects of the game. While all three have moved on to that great gridiron in the sky, the legacy that Smitty left behind is still visible on Friday nights at football fields throughout Danville and Pittsylvania County.
The foundation was created to remember the stellar work done by Smitty is called S.P.O.R.T., an acronym for Smitty’s Plan for Orthopedic Rehabilitation and Training. Founded in 2000, Rehabilitation Services of Danville/OSPT as a 501 (c) (03) non-profit organization designed to help and support the five local high schools of Pittsylvania County and Danville Schools and their student–athletes. It is a way for local professionals to give back to the Pittsylvania County and Danville City student-athletes and offset costs for supplies, coverage, and bracing needs.
Since its inception, Rehabilitation Service of Danville, now Spectrum Medical Sports Medicine Outreach has provided an athletic trainer for GW athletic events and one athletic trainer for the four county high schools. The city of Danville provides the money necessary for the GW trainer and for the last three years Pittsylvania County Schools had done likewise. Until that time, Aaron Taylor and others volunteered their time to cover sporting events in Pittsylvania County.
According to Taylor, the contract between Pittsylvania County Schools and the outreach program has been for 880 hours, allowing for 220 hours for each of the county high schools. Taylor said the hours allowed did not permit him to cover all events, but only the major sports and not even all of those.
“There are times during basketball season there are so many games on the same night that we just don’t have enough people available to cover the home events,” Taylor said. All of that is about to change.
There is a new agreement in place between PCS and the outreach program that will increase the number of hours from 880 to 1300. For Taylor, who works a minimum of 45 hours a week during the high school sports’ seasons, the best news about the increased hours is it will allow the outreach program to add an additional employee.
Blair Bolton, a graduate of Westover Christian Academy and a more recent graduate of Averett University, has been hired by Spectrum Medical to share duties with Taylor. Although Taylor could only recall once in the last 15 years when a home varsity or junior football game went uncovered, the addition of Bolton means almost all home events regardless of sport will have a certified trainer on hand.
“With Elizabeth Faucette and Heath Hylton’s help and with money from the S.P.O.R.T Foundation to pay for their services, we can cover most games, but it has still been hard to get out to the schools to check on kids who might have a minor problem,” Taylor said. “Now I should be able to get out to the schools for an occasional practice.”
The money donated to the foundation not only helps to supplement the part-time Friday night medical personnel, but also is used to purchase supplies, a cost of about $2,000 yearly. Taylor said the new contract with PCS may allow the purchase of new medical kits, something that has not been done in around 20 years.
Taylor has a wish list for future purchases, which includes portable AEDs for each school. The defibrillator is vital for immediate care for a major cardiac episode. “If there was an incident at practice let’s say and someone had to go to the building and get the AED and bring it back to the practice area, how long is that going to take?” said Taylor. ‘Someone should be shocked within three minutes.”
The problem with buying the portable AEDs is like so many things, a lack of money. Taylor said the best prices he can find for the product is $900-$1000. Because the S.P.O.R.T. Foundation operates on donations, there has not been enough additional money available for the purchase.
If interested in donating, please contact:
109 Bridge Street, Suite 300 Danville, VA 24541
Phone: 434-793-4711 ext. 1054